I recently asked a Western Conference veteran for his take on the 2023 NHL trade deadline.
“The East is insane. That’s my take.”
It was as accurate and succinct a recap as one could apply to the days leading up to Friday, March 3, during which the West essentially became a feeder system for the East.
The New York Islanders got the fun started by acquiring Bo Horvat from Vancouver. The New York Rangers added Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko from St. Louis. The New Jersey Devils won the derby for San Jose’s Timo Meier. The Toronto Maple Leafs brought on the Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly and about a dozen defensemen. The Carolina Hurricanes brought over Jesse Puljujärvi (Edmonton) and Shayne Gostisbehere (Arizona). The Tampa Bay Lightning beefed up with Nashville’s Tanner Jeannot, and the Pittsburgh Penguins added the Predators’ Mikael Granlund. For some reason.
Then the East got really silly Wednesday: The Ottawa Senators won the yearlong competition to land Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun, to the shock of the hockey world. If the Senators aren’t true contenders this season — they have a 17% chance of making the playoffs, per Money Puck — they at least join the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings in being part of the next wave.
“It’s absolutely insane how all these teams are loading up,” the Western Conference player said. “It almost reminds me of rich guys at the country club. They all want to show who’s got the biggest watch. It’s hard not to try and keep up.”